Local

Alleged case of horse abuse investigated in Wonder Valley

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

An alleged case of animal abuse has sparked outrage among some Fresno County horse lovers. They claim someone poured a toxic chemical on a horse named Bella.

Bella lives at a home in Wonder Valley. This past weekend, the woman who is in the process of buying her noticed some type of liquid on her coat. Since then Bella has been losing her hair, making burns visible all over her body. The skin just literally fell off as she was rolling.

Jan Otterbeck says she can't understand why someone would want to harm Bella -- a 12-year-old horse who has been living on her Wonder Valley property for three months. "We don't know if this person came onto our property. We don't know if it was a paint ball, what kind of situation it was."

Otterbeck noticed something was wrong on Sunday morning. At first, she thought Bella was sweating. But, after petting her, she felt an oily solution. Then her skin and hair started falling out.

"My horse was in so much pain. She could not stop running around and rolling because this stuff was burning her skin and it still is."

Otterbeck immediately washed her off. She also called her neighbor, Linda Chandler, who transported Bella to a veterinarian.

Chandler says while some horses in the area have had their manes cut in the past, no one in Wonder Valley has experienced animal abuse to this extent.

"I was horrified. I really was. I have never seen anything like that in my life and the horse was clearly in pain when I came over here," said Linda Chandler of Wonder Valley.

Bella has since been given medication. The substance is being tested to determine what it is.

Law enforcement has also gotten involved. Fresno county deputies took pictures of Bella's injuries on Monday night.

As for Otterbeck, she hopes whoever is responsible will come forward. Or, at the least she just wants other horse owners to be aware. "We believe this is a community within a community and we're here to help each other."

Bella is expected to make a full recovery. Otterbeck and the rest of her neighbors are holding an emergency Neighborhood Watch meeting later this week. They're also planning to make fliers to alert people in the area.

If you have any information regarding this case, you are asked to contact the Fresno County Sheriff's Office.

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animal, squaw valley, piedra, minkler, fresno county, local, shannon handy
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